Last week Thursday, the day before my biggest work weekend of the year, the day before 201 students traveled up to NH for our gigantic Fall Retreat that I direct, the hours I should have been figuring out how to stuff 30 extra students into housing and supporting my staff as they bombarded me with questions and emails, what was I doing?
Driving 20 minutes to the Burlington Barnes and Nobles to buy 3 copies of The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan.
Here's the backstory:
4 summers ago, Ling trounced into the house a week into summer vacation with the CDs for Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief. The book had been assigned as summer reading for 7th grade, and Ling being Ling, had borrowed the book from the library in the first week and finished it already.
"We HAVE to listen to this book--it's SO good, even though it's really scary."
That became the summer of Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief. For those of you who haven't been swept into Rick Riordan mania, Percy Jackson learns he is a a demi-god, the son of Poseidon, anathema to all the monsters and evil forces from ancient Greek mythology. Having always been the worst student in his class, he now finds his ADHD serves him well as he fights to stay alive and defend his friends in modern day New York (Olympus rests on top of the Empire State building). The books are funny, exciting, and provide an excellent primer for Greek myths.
We listened to the first 4 books of the series as we drove to and from Niagara Falls and all became rabid Rick Riordan fans, all except for my husband. Scott and I have had a little struggle around long trips ever since I discovered that books on tape are the best way to keep the kids from melting, fighting and whining. But I enjoy listening to the books as much as the kids. Scott would prefer to invest in our marriage by carrying on adult conversations. The nerve of the guy! He finds it very annoying when he thinks I'm listening intently to him, only to discover I've drifted back to Olympus.
When the last Lightning Thief book was published, we went into mini-mourning. But then to our delight we found out that Rick Riordan was starting a new series based on Egyptian mythology. And then to our joy we learned he was starting yet another series based on Roman mythology. Even better--it intersected with Camp Half-Blood, the world of his first series.
Even muchos more better, I discovered that giving the latest copy of a Riordan book to my son, NOT my daughters, gave him immense motivation to read. He just loved the power of having a book they so desperately wanted.
Several months ago, Ling, having already scoped out when The Son of Neptune, the 2nd book in the Roman mythology series, would be published, also found out Rick Riordan was coming to the Burlington Barnes and Noble for a book signing.
"On October 7th we are going to the Burlington Barnes and Nobles to meet him," she announced.
"Sure, uh, nope, can't do it," I replied, "I'm going on the fall retreat that day and leaving around noon. Plus Kai and Ren have piano lessons."
Much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
But several weeks ago, she found out the signing was at 7 p.m., that we needed advance copies, and wristbands to even have the privilege of standing in line to see Rick Riordan. But that meant Scott could take them and there was rejoicing all around.
Fast forward to last week. By Saturday, our retreat had filled. By Tuesday we had 27 students on the waiting list. I seemed to spend every waking minute working on how to deal with the overflow. Wednesday night I had my women's accountability group. Thursday morning I asked Scott if Ling had gotten him to order The Son of Neptune online. She hadn't.
With a pit in my stomach, I called Barnes and Noble.
"Sure you can still get wristbands!" they said, "Come on in today!"
So on the most hectic day of my year, I drove 20 minutes, stood in line, learned all the details around wristbands and proper attire for waiting in line given that they expected 2000 fans to descend on the store the next day.
I drove away with 3 copies of the book and 4 wristbands that allowed my husband and 3 children to stand in line for 2 hours until Rick Riordan spent 8 seconds (Ren counted) scrawling his initials on the inside flaps.
As I said to Ling when I called her to tell her what I had done, "What does this prove to you??"
"That you love me?"
"Thanks Mom, I love you too!"
I'm writing from Chicago, left Tuesday for the Grad/Faculty Staff Director's meeting. This morning I awoke at 5:45 and finished The Son of Neptune, having read the first half on the plane. Sigh. It was great.
Totally worth it.